Former NAACP leader C.L. Bryant went head to head Tuesday with CNN’s Roland Martin over how black leaders have responded to the Feb. 26 Trayvon Martin killing.
In an interview with The Daily Caller Monday, Bryant, once the chapter president of the Garland, Texas NAACP, criticized Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton of “exploiting” the Martin tragedy in order to “racially divide this country.”
But the CNN contributor took issue with Bryant, tweeting his disapproval multiple times. On Tuesday’s “Outfront with Erin Burnett” on CNN, Martin had an opportunity to push back against Bryant on live TV.
Roland Martin touted the accomplishments of the movement acting on behalf Trayvon Martin and noted that Bryant has focused on two individuals instead of the acts of the many.
“Here’s the deal — two million people have signed the Change.org petition,” Martin said. “And so Rev. Bryant is taking issue with two folks. Were they the only people who were there? I was in Sanford yesterday. There were thousands of people there,” Martin said. “Rev. Jamal Bryant of Baltimore was there. There were AME pastors, there were Catholic priests there. There were Baptist preachers there. And so if he has a personal problem with Rev. Sharpton and Jackson, that’s his problem.
“But when you have 2 million people, when you have literally vigils and rallies in 50 cities across the country, these people aren’t out there because of Rev. Jackson or Sharpton. They’re out there because of the issue at hand,” he continued. “So, I say if you have a problem with them, that is your problem, reverend. Focus on this case.”
Bryant explained that his beef was with the lack of attention to other issues involving violence in the black community, particularly with black-on-black crime.
“Let’s have the same type of energy towards the young lady, the little girl who was killed on her door steps in Chicago who was six-years old,” Bryant said. “Let’s gather 2 million people and talk about the black-on-black crime that is going on. The most dangerous person in the life of a young black man is another young black man. And the type of ideas that are spawned when we gather together over a white-on-black murder — and in fact, there is not an epidemic of white men killing black boys.”
“There is an epidemic of black boys, black men killing black men and all of them know that,” he explained. “And so let’s focus the energy on solving the problem that happens every day, not something that happens once in a while.”
But Martin took issue with Bryant’s suggestion that Sharpton and Jackson have been neglecting pressing problems. Instead, Bryant had been the one missing in action, Martin claimed.
“Here is what I find to be interesting here, Erin because I went to [Bryant’s] Twitter page,” Martin said. “And you have made no comment on anything since Feb. 24. Not even the Chicago killings. You have made no comment on your Facebook page. I’ve checked news stories. The only comment that you made about shootings in Chicago was when you were criticizing Rev. Sharpton and Jackson.”
“So I say as a pastor, where are you?” he challenged. “See, I give pastors who differ — I know the Apostle Paul differed with the Disciple Peter. But, where have you been? Are you in Chicago? Are you leading marches? Are you leading rallies? Are you stepping up? How weak is it to say what somebody else is not doing when you should be a leading voice? So, have you been to Chicago?”
Bryant, however, explained he has faced down the Ku Klux Klan and Skinheads as proof of his activism, instead being active on social networks.
“I paid my dues and yes I have been to Chicago,” Bryant replied. “Your question is, what dues have I paid. I have had the Klan and the Skinheads after me over school bussing 20-something years ago. Just this past month where I live in Shreveport in Louisiana, the Skinheads and the Aryan Nation are trying to move into our area. I along with other pastors have in fact done that. What we are doing, what we are doing is, in fact, trying to deal with a powder keg here that we need to keep this, the top on. That is what we are trying to do. Roland, you haven’t been looking at the right pages. You Google ‘C.L. Bryant’ and you will see where I have been.”
The two later hinted at a potential meeting in either Chicago or Newark, N.J. to take on the issue of black-on-black crime.